How to Drop the Last Nap (1-0 Nap Transition)
The dreaded day when you drop the final nap has finally arrived and we as parents can't help but freak out that we lose the only downtime we get in the day. Fear not, there's a way to reclaim a bit of a mental break despite pushing out that last nap. Here are some tips and strategies for a seamless transition away from daytime sleep.
Considerations Before the Nap Drop
Child's Age: Before you start transitioning, it's essential to consider your child's age. Most children stop napping between ages 2.5 and 3.5.
Signs of Readiness: Look for signs that your child might be ready to drop the nap. These signs can include taking longer to fall asleep at night (ie. very late bedtime), waking up early in the morning, or refusing to nap during the day.
Developmental Milestone: Language surges can be a reason for a toddler protesting or playing through a naptime. If you've noticed an increase in your child's vocabulary or babbling, give it a couple of weeks before deciding to drop the nap to see if it subsides and resolves your sleep issue.
What to Do When the Nap is Dropped
Quiet Time: Instead of their usual nap, have your child play quietly in their room, (coloring, playing with toys, looking at books) and set a timer for 30-45 minutes. Let them play independently for this session when they would previously have been down for their nap. No TV or screens.
Start slow: Begin with a 15-minute timer. Increase time interval as your child shows success playing independently. Tell your child how long to expect before you come to get them (show your child on the clock/timer).
Quiet, not boring: Introduce a quiet time bin reserved for this time. These activities should be fun, something they look forward to, but not overly stimulating. This is the time to let your child be creative and to learn how to entertain themselves without screens! Avoid noisy toys so your child's brain can relax. This period of calm will help prevent an afternoon meltdown.
Independent space: Have your child spend time in their own room/space (eg. sectioned off area of the living room, spot on the couch, etc) and limit interaction to promote independence. Try not to use activities that require supervision.
Something to look forward to: After the designated time is up, have a fun snack ready to go, a special activity to do together, or even screen time if your child successfully completes quiet time.
Quality of Night-time Sleep: Monitor if the quality of your child's night-time sleep improves over time without the daytime nap. They should be sleeping soundly for 11 to 12 hours, and waking up refreshed.
Shift bedtime earlier if necessary: If your little one seems tired before their usual bedtime, go ahead and move bedtime up by a half an hour or so. It's important to avoid overtiredness so their body doesn't go into overdrive. You may need to move bedtime earlier to 6-6:30pm during the transition especially if the single nap is less than 2 hours in length.
Hang in there: It may take a few days for them to adjust to this "quiet time" change, but stay consistent and they'll get the hang of it, and might even start to look forward to it!
Don't get discouraged: You may notice some heightened irritability on your child's part around dinner time. This is common and should pass within a couple of weeks once their body has adjusted to their new schedule.
Quiet time activities
Coloring or drawing: Provide your toddler with coloring books, crayons, markers, or washable paints. This activity encourages creativity and helps develop fine motor skills.
Puzzles: Choose age-appropriate puzzles with large pieces for your toddler to solve. Puzzles help with cognitive development and problem-solving skills.
Quiet reading time: Create a cozy reading corner with age-appropriate books. Encourage your toddler to explore books independently or read to them aloud.
Sensory play: Set up a sensory bin filled with rice, beans, or colored pasta. Add scoops, small containers, and toys for your toddler to explore textures and enhance their tactile skills.
Playdough or clay: Provide your toddler with playdough or clay and let them mold and shape it. This activity enhances sensory development and creativity.
Building blocks: Let your toddler play with building blocks or Lego Duplo. They can build towers, houses, or anything their imagination desires. This activity promotes spatial awareness and fine motor skills.
Stuffies or figurines: Keep a collection of stuffed animals, dolls, or action figures, that your toddler can engage with independently.
Board games: Introduce simple board games designed for toddlers, such as matching games or memory games. This activity promotes turn-taking and basic counting skills.
Music time: Play soothing or instrumental music for your toddler to enjoy. You can also provide them with simple musical instruments like a xylophone or tambourine.
Puppets or finger puppets: Encourage your toddler to engage in imaginative play by using puppets or finger puppets. They can create their own stories and act them out.
Sorting and organizing: Provide objects like buttons, shells, or beads and let them sort and organize them by color, size, or shape. This activity enhances their cognitive and fine motor skills.
If your child is over 3.5 years of age, yet still naps a ton in the day, yet has a broken night sleep, there might be more to explore other than blindly dropping the final nap. Remember, I offer a FREE 15-minute sleep assessment to discuss your struggles and help you determine if you need just a tweak or if my professional infant sleep coaching is in better alignment with your needs. Reserve your today to hear how I work 1-1 with families to get better sleep.